On October 21st, Brian Whitney wrote a post for the “Worlds Without End” blog in which he offers a contextual framing of LDS Church history that begins with Joseph Smith’s early efforts to have all things related to the church recorded and that then moves through several periods and shifts in how history has been done and viewed by Mormon leaders. In presenting this account that helps us understand various personalities along with cultural and institutional shifts, as well as all that has been wrought by the advent of the Internet and easy access to unprecedented amounts of information, Whitney suggests that perhaps the common refrain we often hear that the Church has “lied” to members about its history needs to be challenged.
His post and suggestion created a great deal of conversation online, which we have chosen to discuss here on Mormon Matters. And what ensued turned into fantastic discussion between Brian Whitney, Adam Leavitt, and Lisa Hansen. In addition to Brian sharing his framings, the panel discusses a wide variety of layers to terms such as “lying” and “deceiving” and the pros and cons that arise with their use. They also discuss paternalism and attitudes of “we know best for you” that feed into some LDS leaders’ attitudes toward the presentation of history in all its complications. In the end, the discussion turns to the roles played by narratives that involve accusations of lying. How are they helpful in our spiritual and emotional growth, and at what point, if any, do or should they lose their place as we tell the stories of our interactions with the LDS church and its presentation of its history?
Brian Whitney, “History vs Heritage: Maybe We Should Stop Saying That We’ve Been Lied to by the Church“, Worlds Without End blog, 21 October 2015
Brian Whitney, Lindsay Hansen Park, Jon Grimes, “The State of Public History in Today’s Mormonism,” Mormon Matters Podcast 297-298, 23 September 2015
Brian Whitney, Lindsay Hansen Park, Jon Grimes, Emily Grover, “Why Is This All So Hard?” Mormon Matters Podcast 303, 19 October 2015